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How Do I Prepare and Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables?

Below you will find healthy recipes and resources about how to prepare low cost recipes that include a variety of fruits and vegetables in the meal. Also you will find food safety tips about handling and storing fresh fruits and vegetables.

Healthy Recipes

USDA Recipe Finder - The site contains numerous recipes that contain easy to prepare and low-cost food choices that follow Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Food choices or recipes are organized by menu item (e.g., main dish, side dish, soup). Weekly household menus can also be built from these recipes.

Recipes for Healthy Kids - The Recipe for Healthy Kids Competition sponsored by the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign and the USDA, challenged teams of school nutrition professionals, chefs, students, parents and other community members to develop creative, tasty, and kid- approved recipes. Check out the award-winning recipes that you can make at home or include in school lunch or childcare menus. Try out Harvest Bake - one of the top recipes featuring butternut squash and bell peppers! More information and recipes at LetsMove.gov.

Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Veggies! This recipe and more by EatingWell can help you achieve the goal of making half your plate fruits and vegetables. One of our favorites is Spaghetti with Quick Meat Sauce. More recipes also available at 

First Lady Michelle Obama shared a booklet of healthy recipes to honor the schools that met the HealthierUS School Challenge! Five simple, kid-friendly recipes include: Broccoli Soup, Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Grilled Chicken Salad with Garden Greens, Warm Baked Apples with Fruit, Fruit and Oatmeal Bars. Click here for the recipes.

Food Groups Recipes - Fifteen recipes (3 from each food group) show ways to use foods from each food group. They are complete with basic nutritional analyses and food group amounts. Recipes which feature vegetables grown in Michigan include: Cucumber Yogurt Dip, Zesty Tomato Soup, Corn Chowder, and Roasted Root Vegetables!

FOOD SAFETY

Use safe practices to keep foods wholesome for you and your family. When food is grown, processed, and prepared safely, everyone benefits. A host of Federal agencies share the responsibility for food safety. Food safety is key to delivering wholesome food to the plate. More information about safe food handling practices are available at FoodSafety.gov.

Tips for Fresh Produce Safety - Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Juices:

Buying Tips

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting fresh-cut produce - such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens - choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products.

Storage Tips

  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
  • Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Preparation Tips

  • Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
  • All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
  • Many precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If the package indicates that the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.

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